GOESSEL, Kan. — The activity echoed the sign on the east side of Keith’s Foods: “Small town, big heart.”
Nearly 700 people from Goessel and the surrounding area demonstrated that on April 26 by purchasing meals for a suggested $15 — and often more — raising $19,000 for Mennonite Central Committee.
They picked up their meals of ham loaf, loaded baked potato, cream cheese corn, dinner roll, broccoli cauliflower salad and pie to benefit MCC in light of the pandemic that canceled the annual Kansas Mennonite Relief Sale — where they “feed the multitude” and auction quilts.
Keith’s Foods owner Keith Banman of Tabor Mennonite Church said they made 250 pounds of ham loaf and nearly 90 pies. There were two drive-through lanes for customers.
“The exact amount received as of last night was $19,207.55,” Banman said. “It was amazing. Between my store staff and volunteers, we had about 20 working with this meal. We made just short of 700 meals.”
While vehicles ranging from cars to SUVs, a bicycle and even a tractor circled around the grocery store for purchases, volunteers ran back and forth to the front door, gathering meals in bags, the only difference being the kind of pie accompanying them.
People came a steady stream from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“We are all blown away by how generous people were with their donations,” Banman said.
He has offered catered dinners as an auction item at past MCC sales.
“People would bid and buy these meals, and I would deliver them as they would schedule them,” he said. “Since the sale was canceled, I thought maybe we could do a meal to go on a Sunday.
“I wanted to do this as my donation for the sale. At first I thought if we get orders for 100, maybe 200, that would be great.”
He received many more than that, and had to cut off meal reservations on April 24.
“We just reached a point we couldn’t do any more,” he said. “We are doing all the cooking here at my store with help with oven space at Tabor [Mennonite] Church.”
It wasn’t difficult to find help for the meal.
“My staff has been very busy doing prep work,” Banman said. “I also had offers of others wanting to help. I have very much appreciated receiving some extra financial help to go toward paying the food costs.”